A series to be updated over the summer holiday.
This summer is called scheme of work summer. After a year of variable planning to say the least, I have committed my summer to writing several schemes of work:
Y7 – Poetry (Invictus, If, Desiderata, I shall rise)
Y8 – Oliver Twist
Y9 – Of Mice and Men
Y10 – A Christmas Carol (Lit), a transactional writing unit on the theme of prejudice (Lang)
Y11 – Macbeth (Lit) (re-draft) and imaginative writing (Lang)
Y12 +Y13 – The Handmaid’s Tale
It’s gonna be a fun summer 😉
Anyhow, I thought as I am writing these units that I would blog about the process I go through. I am a good planner…no, a great planner but I am still learning and every time I read a new book (education book) there is more I learn and bring in to what I am doing. But this is the process I go through and for any of you planning a unit for the first time, this might be of use….
Step 1: Know your subject
Next year we have taken the decision that all of us will teach A Christmas Carol. This year, I taught Jekyll and Hyde and wrote a cracking unit. I have never read A Christmas Carol. I have only watched the film and, even then, that was 735836726 years ago. So my first question is how can I teach a text well, if I do not know what I am teaching? If we want to teach our subject well, we need to know it well and in order to know it well, we need to read up on the subject matter. We are, after all, researchers.
Therefore the first port of call before you even begin planning is to read.
A. Read the text itself.
B. Read all of the study guides available on the text. I can remember the first time I tweeted about reading the study guides and someone thanked me as they did not know if this was the done thing. The person was concerned that her colleagues would tease her for having to read the study guides. WHAT???? That’s insane. I even joked (although not joked) at an A level course on Friday that my text choices were determined by the study guides available!!! Someone, with more time than you, has been paid to put these together and do a lot of the research for you, why wouldn’t you use them would be my question? When I decide upon a text, I scour Amazon and order absolutely every single study guide I possibly can on that text. You then have two decisions, pay for them yourself and keep them forever more or….which I think I am going to start to do because it is expensive…charge them to your department and use them to build your department resource library.
Yesterday, knowing that I am teaching A Christmas Carol in September, I sat down and read all of the study guides I had purchased. I learnt so much about Dicken’s motivation for writing A Christmas Carol, the era in which the novella was set, the methods Dickens used to present different characters within the novella etc etc.
As I was reading, I made copious notes in a word document which I have attached below. I categorised these into context, characters, each stave (I would do each chapter for any other text) and the key themes. I also, simultaneously, updated the Knowledge Organiser for A Christmas Carol that we had with this core learning (also attached below) and, therefore, the foundation for my unit.
Once I have read the study guides, I need to read some more. Therefore, today I will
- Read the workbooks. Look at the activities and the focus of the activities in these to consider what I might want our pupils to do with the text. (I have started this process by noting down the activities).
- Read as many Schemes of work that have already been written for the same reason. Rob Ward is a hero of mine and so I will definitely be going through his workbook today.
As I go through these I will add in key activities for pre-reading and then for each stave as well as activities focused on character and theme.
Alongside this I will re-read the text, adding in my ideas and my approaches that I feel will support our pupils to know this text well.
This will then leave me to focus in on how I prepare pupils for the exam (and the nice thing about these study guides are that they come with lots and lots of exemplar essays).
Part 2: Translating notes into a Medium Term Plan and beginning to frame those lessons!
My notes from study guides on A Christmas Carol: A Christmas Carol pre planning notes
A Christmas Carol Knowledge Organiser: KS4 A Christmas Carol Knowledge Organiser